I am often asked about the difference between juicing and smoothies regarding our health. Many of you would like to know the benefits of each of these and when or if we should avoid either of these practices & why.
So let me try to unpack this subject & help you understand it in the way I have learned to understand both practices.
Let’s talk about smoothies first. We all know that giving our gut a break on digestion is a good thing, whether we do fasting, juicing, or smoothies. 85% of our body’s energy goes to digestion so when we can take breaks from digestion our body can focus on repairing other things that need help. One way to aid the digestion process is to eat plant foods like veggies and fruits because plants take all their minerals and vitamins from the soil in a form they can absorb but we can’t and they break it down in the utilization process. Because of this process when we eat the plant we get a form of minerals we can now utilize in comparison to taking the direct form of minerals known as rock minerals, which our bodies are not able to absorb & utilize. This is a huge benefit of a plant-based diet, but in addition plant foods, in general, are much easier to digest than animal flesh or animal by-products. The higher the protein content of the food the longer the digestion process is and since fruits and veggies are not high protein they are natural carbohydrate foods and should not be compared to refined carbohydrates, which are the ones to avoid.
The importance of FIBER in our diets
Ok so now using this knowledge you can see that both juices and smoothies have the benefit of being easy to digest because they are not high protein foods. But let’s go on to the next step. Next, we need to speak about the importance of fiber in our diet. Fiber is really a key component of being healthy. As a matter of fact, as a long time vegan, I only get asked how I get my protein and my reply is I decided to focus on first saving lives of animals via my diet, but also to focus on giving my body what it truly needs for health and that is fiber not protein. Mother’s milk is only 0.8 percent protein per deciliter and we trust that food provides all the nutrients needed for the important development of our children even though it is a low protein food. So the actual protein requirement in our body is low, in comparison to the requirement of fiber. We can see that the higher amount of fiber in a person’s diet the healthier they are, therefore we should be walking around shouting out ways for people to get more fiber. Well, do you know how much fiber is in chicken, steak, or fish, whether it is one serving or 10? ZERO grams of fiber! The only foods we get fiber from are fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. This fact alone is a good reason to opt for a plant-based diet over a high protein, high-fat diet that is being touted as healthy diets.
To understand the difference between juicing and smoothies you have to first know about fiber. There are 2 kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both are in all plant foods but some foods are higher in one than the other. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and therefore easier to break down in the body. Insoluble fiber is the bulky kind of fiber that does not break down in water and is what we use to prevent constipation because it adds bulk to the stool which in the end helps send the signal that the bowel is full and start the process of peristalsis, which is the involuntary movement that happens when we need to expel a stool.
As I said all plant foods contain both kinds of fiber but here are some examples of foods high in each category:
Foods higher in Soluble fiber: Apple pectin (fruit w/o skin), flax seeds, citrus fruits, berries, pears peas, potatoes, etc.
Foods higher in insoluble fiber: Apples (with skin on), corn eggplant, green beans, broccoli, kale, celery, etc.
The important thing to know is that we don’t need to really keep track of how much of each kind of fiber we are getting if we eat a varied plant-based diet since all plant foods contain both.
Finally JUICE OR SMOOTHIE?
Ok so now you know the importance of fiber then you may be asking: “How in the heck is juicing healthy if we remove all the fiber when we juice?” Good question and you should be asking yourself that question. Juicing is very healthy but has a very specific purpose to deliver high amounts of nutrients quickly and in a very direct way where it can absorb immediately into the body. For example, when I make one liter of my favorite detox juice I use 8 large apples, 1 full bunch of cilantro, and 4 or 5 lemons. All of this product only makes one liter. I have to use an entire bunch of celery just to produce 1/4 of a liter or 8oz of juice and it is recommended to drink 16 oz, therefore I need to use 2 bunches every morning to produce that amount of juice. Therefore the bottom line is we would never eat 2 bunches of celery a day but it is easy to drink 16oz of juice. We would never eat 8 apples, 5 lemons, and 1-2 bunches of cilantro a day but I can chug down my liter of juice in one moment … no problem. Many say this is too much sugar, or dangerous because of the lack of fiber.. but remember you are juicing to flood the body with a high level of nutrients that can immediately absorb and the reason they can absorb so easily is that we removed the fiber. Therefore, juicing is very healthy when a person is very sick because they need fast work to let nutrients repair all the problems. My motto is: “the sicker you are the more you need juicing!” However, juicing is a potent detox because of it fast working properties and many will get sick because it pushes out the toxins very quickly, therefore you have to be careful when you begin juicing and either have guidance or ease into it slowly.
Smoothies on the other hand are full of fiber but the great thing about a smoothie is all that fiber is predigested when it gets blended. That means you get easier digestion & a blender full of more fruits & veggies than you could consume in the whole food form. The other great things about smoothies are you can easily blend in superfood or protein powders to up the nutritional value if you desire So smoothies have lots of healing power in them too but in a different way than juices help us heal.
So here are my 5 top benefits of each:
- You consume more nutrition in one liter of juice than possible to eat in one day. Therefore juicing acts like a vitamin /mineral IV that acts immediately on the cells.
- Juicing allows you to eat veggies & greens you may not like the taste of in the whole food form but when mixed with apples, lemons, carrots you can hide them & yet get all the nutritional value of those foods.
- Juicing works so fast that if you are in serious trouble with a serious health diagnosis you can do faster work with juicing than anything else.
- One of my favorite things about juicing is how powerful of a detox it is. Juicing is the core of any big detox program or any healing program especially if diagnosed with cancer.
- Lastly, juicing allows me to consume a high amount of raw food nutrients that have their full enzyme capacity because personally eating raw foods are difficult for me & it allows me to easily get my 10 servings of fruits & veggies that are not always easy even as a vegan.
- Like juicing it allows me to consume more raw fruits & veggies than if I would eat the whole fruits or veggies
- Like juicing it allows me to sneak in green leafy veggies when family members don’t like them yet need the healthy nutrients in their diet.
- Smoothies are an easy way to add superfoods and protein powders into your meal making your meal extremely nutrient-dense and extremely satisfying yet healthy.
- Smoothies are like eating a full meal because you get more than than the full fiber content in your smoothie than found in a meal because you can blend it up. So it is a FIBER FEAST and we all need more fiber.
- Everybody loves smoothies. They are a great way to enjoy healthy fast meals!